Liz Barnsdale: The Wanderer 73-105 
       (EN2009, Pre-Conquest English II, 2000)

Translation policy:  I have attempted within my translation to keep as closely as possible to the original poem. As I have tried to structure the translation poetically, and give it, as far as possible, a greater opportunity for a poetic reading, there are two points at which I have rearranged the verse. In both places my intentions were the same; I felt it was needed to enhance the reading of the verse (in one point you will see it is due to the meter), and also to enhance the feelings of regret and sadness that the wanderer expresses when he speaks. My translation alternates from free to rhymed verse, and I have placed it in stanzas to represent what I believe to be different thought movements in the poem. I have alliterated as much as possible to enhance the reading of the translation and emphasize its poetic nature.

A wise man must understand
How terrifying it will be,
When there stands deserted,
All this worldly prosperity.

                                                                                Just as now in various places,
                                                                                Throughout this middlearth,
                                                                                Stand wind-blown, frost-covered walls,
                                                                                Buildings exposed to storms.
The hall is decaying, the lords lie dead;
                                                  deprived of delight.
Troops of retainers all perished, proud near the wall.
Some battle took away, and carried them forth.
                                                                                A bird carried one away
                                                                                           over the high sea.
                                                                                The grey wolf dismembered one
                                                                                           in death.
                                                                                A sad-faced earl hid one
                                                                                           in the earthcave.
The Creator of man laid waste
To this dwelling place,
Until, devoid of the noise of people,
The old workmanship of giants stood idle.

He who has mused on these foundations,
And wise in mind deeply pondered this dark life,
Often remembers great numbers of slaughter,
And subsequently these words utters.

                                                "Where has gone the horse?
                                                                                                Alas! The gleaming goblet.
                                                Where has gone the man?
                                                                                                Alas! The armoured warrior.
                                                Where has gone the treasure giver?
                                                                                                Alas! The Prince’s majesty.
                                                Where has gone the place of feast?
                                                Where have gone the pleasures in the hall?

                                                "How that time has passed away,
                                                Grown dark under night’s cover.
                                                How that time has passed away,
                                                As if it never was.

                                "Now there stands, in the track of those dear people,
                                A wonderfully high wall with serpentine symbols.
                                Forceful, slaughter-hungry ash spears took away the noblemen.
                                                                                                Fate is mighty.

                                                            "The howling of winter,
                                                                      Storms beat upon the cliffs.
                                                                                Falling snowstorms bind the earth,
                                                                                          Then darkness comes…"

Page created by Dr Jennifer Neville
Last updated 24 May 2000